Santander logoYesterday’s Wales Online reports that Santander refused to deal with paperwork submitted by a customer… because it was written in Welsh.

This is in spite of the fact that the bank has a clearly stated Welsh language policy which states:

We want all of our Welsh speaking customers to feel comfortable using Welsh language in their day to day banking with us and we encourage its use wherever possible. It’s why we support a number of Welsh language initiatives, allowing customers to use Welsh language in conversations with our Welsh speaking colleagues in branch, on our cash machines in Wales and when writing to us.

This policy was clearly not known to some manager somewhere in England as the bank declined to process membership forms after they were handed in at the bank’s branch in Aberystwyth.

After their submission in Aberystwyth, the paperwork clearly landed on the desk of a bank official who clearly didn’t speak the language of Hywel Dda, as the forms were subsequently returned to the branch in question with a note which stated: “Please return these documents to your account holder. Unfortunately Santander can only accept these documents written in English.”

Unfortunately, the paperwork in question was submitted to Santander’s Aberystwyth branch by Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (aka the Welsh Language Society).

Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg’s rights spokesperson Manon Elin, commented as follows:

This is another example of a private company refusing to provide a Welsh language service because they’re not required to do so, and that’s completely unacceptable. We must have a language law which ensures that banks have to respect basic rights to use the Welsh language. Unfortunately, the Welsh Government’s plans for new legislation make it less likely that banks will have to comply.

The vast majority of people have to bank, but there is no means of banking online in Welsh, and we have to fight for other basic services in Welsh.

The society has also raised the matter with Minister Government Alun Davies challenging him to change the bank’s policy. In a recent white paper, the Minister refused to commit to extending Welsh language rights to the banking sector because of the ‘present economic certainty‘.

In response to this incident, the bank has commented as follows:

Santander accepts documentation that we receive in Welsh in line with our Welsh language policy.

We understand our customers who live in Wales may have various documentation and forms that will be written in Welsh.

If our policy has not been followed then we apologise for any unintentional upset this matter may have caused. The matter will be reviewed to ensure this does not happen again.

For your ‘umble scribe the final sentence from Santander can be translated into plain English as: “Oops! We’ve been caught out!” 🙂